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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Audio Note M8 Preamplifier (Tube) by Ougo

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REVIEW: Audio Note M8 Preamplifier (Tube)

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Model: M8
Category: Preamplifier (Tube)
Suggested Retail Price: 36000 euro (French price)
Description: Transformer coupled preamp
Manufacturer URL: Audio Note
Model Picture: View

Review by ougo on September 01, 2009 at 05:31:56
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I am the happy owner (since few times now) of a vintage Audio Note M7 preamp. I really appreciate this machine and have a lot of pleasure to listen music with. The sound is sweet, the midrange is magic, fluid, rich. There is more accurate, may be more dynamic but I never have more emotion and pleasure with another preamp, even with a very upgraded Audio Note M5. Concerning this last one, i accept that a very subjective and personal conclusion, other people could prefered this M5 which had better and stronger bass. As the quality of midrange/treble is more important for me, my choice was to keep my M7.

Few months ago, I was searching a new amps to match with a pair of TAD 2252 speakers. During this time, I had the opportunity to try some amps and compared sometimes my M7 with other units (as wavac PR-T1). Some were better (as the wavac), but my old M7 was never ridiculous and keep usually the advantage on one parameter, the emotion.
After loosing my time with JBL and TAD speakers, I came back on what I appreciate the most, a pair of Audio Note speakers (AN E SPe HE). I also decided to sale my pair of Lamm ML1.1 and to keep my Audio Note P4 Balanced. Just one issue and not a small one, the P4 bal are designed to be use with a symetrical preamp and it's not the case of the M7. By consequence the gain was under the requested level and I was not able to use 100% of the amps and speakers. I discussed with Peter (boss of AN UK) about that and there was no possible way to solve my problem.

Last month, I saw a very good opportunity on a "crazy expensive" (sorry Peter) Audio Note M8 and decided to buy it. I am curious and try to keep my mind open, so even if I said many times "I will never sale my beloved M7 and AN Japan products are more musical than AN UK ones", I wanted to compare both units.
No suspens, the M7 is off and in the found of a cupboard. The M8 is a wonderful and absolutely amazing machine. What I said was wrong, the M8 is absolutly musical and keep all the emotion of the music. It's very sweet and fluid, may be even more than my M7, but it's also better on any other parameters. Each time there is not "a world" between both machines but at the end, all these details make a real and important difference. M8 is more defined and dynamic, the bass are stronger, extended with richer tones, there is a little bit more air in the upper range, you have a better feeling of room atmosphere and a lot of rythm and "life".

It is very hard to write a feedback on this M8. To cross tests and experiences with others high level preamps and amps should give more informations. One difficulty comes from the back that this machine doesn't have real default, the quality level reached is so high that I can't really formulate any reproach.
I know that I can go farer with better IC cable between the M8 & P4 bal, also with upgrading the attenuator with the new audio note ones (based on tantalum resistors) and I hope to do it soon. I will probably come back here to give you my feedback.

All the best


Product Weakness: none at this time
Product Strengths: Natural, definition, sweet, fluid, fast, dynamic

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Audio Note P4 balanced
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): M8 & M7
Sources (CDP/Turntable): AN CDT2 & DAC 4 SIgnature
Speakers: AN E SPe HE
Cables/Interconnects: QSSC, KSL Vz, SPe
Music Used (Genre/Selections): all
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Audio Note M8 Preamplifier (Tube) - Ougo 05:31:56 09/1/09 ( 2)